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German Section - Expo Ghent 1913

German Section at the Exhibition Expo Ghent 1913

The systematic opposition of some influential personalities of the German Exhibition Committee stopped the favourable dispositions of the imperial government; the steps taken by Messrs. Casier and de Smet de Naeyer failed in the official spheres; but they had full success with the private initiative.

Germany's participation was entirely due to the initiative of industrialists and merchants gathered in an organising committee under the presidency of Dr. H. Becker, professor at the Academy of Social and Commercial Sciences in Frankfurt am Main, who took the title of general commissioner.

The members of this committee were able to gather a large number of members; they built a palace with an area of several thousand square metres; this palace included halls reserved for industry and commerce, and salons and saloons devoted to Fine and Applied Arts. Although the industrial participation was noticeable, the characteristic feature of the German section was to be found in the applied art exhibitions.

The German palace, with its mastodonous forms, contrasted with the slender elegance of the Pavillon de la ville de Paris, with which it was adjacent. Two enormous blocks of staf, flanked by high square towers, and an even more colossal central block, surmounted by a symbolic statue and pierced by small openings, as doors or windows, such was the facade, a personification in some way of German pride, preoccupied with crushing everything by force.

Inside the palace, the hall of honour was reserved for the glorification of the reigning Emperor; in a green setting, a bust of the monarch bore this inscription:

William II, 'mighty supporter of peace for a quarter of a century. Cruel irony! This man, whom his subjects called the apostle of peace, was at that moment preparing, in the shadows, the cruelest, most barbaric and most unjust war that ever was.

The other rooms were mainly concerned with applied art. It is known that attempts were made in Germany to renovate the art of building and furniture.

One of the most important architects of these reforms was a Belgian, Henri Van de Velde. He strove to create a style that was pleasantly adapted to the environment and circumstances. In a special section dedicated to him, the realisation of these art concepts applied to interiors could be seen.

Another room of applied art, created by Mr. Osthaus, director of the Deutsche Museum fur Kunst, in Handwerk und Gewerbe in Hagen, contained everything that could adorn a city interior apart from furniture.

Finally, at the far end of the palace, a machine hall was adjoined by another hall where intimate Germany was revealed through photographs and documents relating to the life of its great cities.

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle & Internationale de Gand 1913